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Sermons

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For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

 

May 2022


May 15, 2022 "Easter Discipleship, Part 3: Love One Another (as I Have Loved You)" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 8, 2022 "Easter Discipleship, Part 2: Follow My Voice" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 1, 2022 "Easter Discipleship, Part 1: Feed My Sheep" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

April 2022


April 17, 2022 "New Life, or an Idle Tale?" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

April 10, 2022 "The Deeper Meaning" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

March 2022


March 13, 2022  "Images of Jesus- Part II: Friend of the Cross" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

February 2022


February 13, 2022  "Love, Faith, Hope - Part III: The Life of Hope" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

January 2022


January 30, 2022  "Love, Faith, Hope - Part I:  Acts of Love" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

January 2, 2022  "Jesus Draws a Crowd" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

December 2021


December 19, 2021 "Advent Anticipation" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

December 5, 2021 "Advent 2: Wilderness Preparation" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

November 2021


November 14, 2021 "How It All Ends, Part 2: Resurrection" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

November 7, 2021 "How It All Ends, Part 1: Return" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

October 2021


October 31, 2021 "SSPC Values Part 5: Steward God's Gifts" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

October 24, 2021 "SSPC Values Part 4: Nurture Relationships" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

October 17, 2021 "SSPC Values Part 3: Share Hospitality by the Rev. Don Wahlig

October 10, 2021  "SSPC Values Part 2: Show Compassion" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

October 3, 2021  "SSPC Values Part 1: Glorify God" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

September 2021


September 19, 2021  "Gentle Wisdom, or Worldly Ways?" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

September 12, 2021  "Prophetic Hope" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

September 5, 2021  "A Vision of Our Future" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

August 2021


August 15, 2021  "Wise Living" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

July 2021


July 4, 2021  "Humility Over Hubris" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

June 2021


June 27, 2021  "Faith Over Fear" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 2021


May 30, 2021  "The Spirit, Part 3: :Life and Peace" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 23, 2021  "The Spirit, Part 2: The Life of Hope" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 16, 2021  "The Spirit, Part I: Wisdom and Revelation" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 9, 2021  "Love Actually, Part 4: Love and Christ" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 2, 2021  "Love Actually, Part 3: Love and God" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

April 2021


April 25, 2021  "Love Actually, Part II: Love in Action" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

April 18, 2021  "Love Actually, Part I: Love and Family" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

Easter, April 4, 2021  "How Does It End?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

March 2021


March 28, 2021  "The King We Weren't Expecting" by Rev. Don Wahlig

March 14, 2021  "The Cure for Snake Bite" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

February 2021


February 28, 2021  "Are you Kidding, God?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

February 14, 2021  "Premature Joy" by Rev. Don Wahlig

February 7, 2021  "Need a Liftt?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

 

 

Click here for previous sermons

 

 

May 20, 2018

“The Spirit of Life” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, May 20, 2018 [Pentecost B] –  Acts 2:1-4,11b-18  •  Psalm 104:24-34, 35b  •  Ezekiel 37:1-14  • John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15

FOCUS:  With God’s spirit, we have hope of new life.

 

Are any of you baseball fans?  Who do you root for?  I think we start rooting for a particular team when we’re very young. 

I grew up in Delaware, and so, naturally, I started out rooting for the Phillies when I was little.  But, because my father grew up in New York, I began rooting for the Yankees as a teenager. 

When Beth and I were living in New York City, we would go to the old Yankee Stadium on occasion to watch them play.  It was tremendously exciting to follow them on those dramatic World Series runs in the ‘90s and the early 2000s.

But there was another side to that story.  Those of you who are Boston Red Sox fans know it all too well.  While the Yankees were piling up trophies season after season, the Red Sox were home watching on the couch.  Red Sox fans everywhere were wondering, “When will we ever win another World Series?” 

You couldn’t blame them for feeling hopeless. Their last title was in 1918.  Then, in 1920, they sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees, and the Red Sox never won another World Series in that century. 

Meanwhile, the Yankees piled up 26 championships.  Even worse for Red Sox fans, since they played in the same division, it was often the Yankees who knocked them out of the Pennant race.

It became known as the curse of the Bambino.  Red Sox fans everywhere felt like they were in exile, without hope of ever again seeing the promised land.

And in the 2004 playoffs, it looked like more of the same.  Once more they were facing the Yankees for the AL Championship.  The Sox were down 3 games to none, and losing 2-0 in the bottom of the 9th inning in game 4. 

They were 3 outs away from yet another defeat.  And that’s what everyone expected would happen. Boston fans everywhere were saying to themselves, “Here we go again.  We’re dead.”

But then something happened, something miraculous.  First, the lead-off hitter drew a walk.  A stolen base and a homerun later, and the rally was on.

Suddenly, they had life.  They won that game, and the next three to take the Pennant. 

Then, they went on to win their first World Series title in 86 years.  It was the greatest comeback in sports history.  For Red Sox fans everywhere, utter despair turned into joyous triumph.

That is exactly the kind of comeback that God is promising in our passage from Ezekiel.

For generations before Ezekiel was born, the Babylonian Empire was growing stronger and expanding.  When Jerusalem foolishly rebelled against them, the Babylonians razed the city.  They destroyed the Temple and deported the Jewish King and other leaders back to Babylon.  Ezekiel was among the first wave of exiles. 

For Ezekiel and his fellow exiles, the future looked as bleak as it could possibly be.  They believed nothing happens unless God permits it, so they assumed it must be God’s judgment.  In their minds, the people of Judah and their leaders had brought this devastation upon themselves.  They disobeyed God’s commandments – and now they were paying the price. 

They lost the Temple, the monarchy and the land – the land God promised their ancestors, the very symbol of his covenant, a covenant which they knew that had broken one too many times. 

Now, their greatest fear appears to be coming true:  it seems to them that God has disowned them, cast them out, and cut them off.  They’re as good as dead. 

The vision of a valley filled with dry bones is the perfect metaphor for the despair they feel.  There’s no life there.  The exiles have dug their own graves, and now they’re forced to live in them.

Have you ever felt like that?

For some of us it may have been when we struggled to raise a rebellious teenager who’s making bad decisions, some of the same bad decisions we made at that age.

For others, it may have been when we faced the shock of sudden realization that the relationship we assumed would always be rock solid, is on the brink of collapse through mutual neglect.

For still others, it may have been when we received a diagnosis that our days are more limited than we ever imagined, and the way we’ve neglected our health has only made it worse.

For some it may have been when, no matter how many interviews we’ve had, there’s still no job, and still no paycheck.

Or maybe it was when we took that paycheck for granted, only to realize the financial hole we’ve dug for ourselves is deeper than we can even see out of.

Sooner or later, all of us feel like this, like we’re in the Valley of Dry Bones, listless and lifeless, as good as dead.  And what makes this misery all the harder to bear, is knowing that we ourselves have had a hand in creating it.  Like the exiles, we’ve done what we know is wrong, and more than once. 

And now we’re stuck.  Stuck in a place we never thought we’d be, a place from which we can’t imagine we’ll ever escape.  And God seems so very far away.  Even praying becomes hard.  It feels like God has left us entirely to our own misery, misery of our own making.

We’ve all felt that way.  It’s the same way the exiles felt.  Like them, we’ve lost all hope that we’ll ever get back to the life we had before.  We’re in the pit of despair and there doesn’t seem to be any way out.

But, friends, with God, there’s always a way.  There’s always a ladder out of the pit, a path through the wilderness, a highway through the desert.  

That’s what he’s telling Ezekiel to prophecy to those dry bones, “I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil.”

He’s promising to restore his people to the place where they belong.  Despite their unfaithfulness, they’re still his people, and he is still their God.

The way they’ll know it is through the gift of his Spirit.  Remember that breath, spirit and wind are all the same word in Hebrew.  And just like the wind goes everywhere, there’s no place on earth where God’s spirit can’t reach us.

Best of all, the Spirit is what makes the impossible possible.  Without it, our existence is as arid and lifeless as those dry bones.  But with God's spirit, there is life-- what Jesus called fullness of life.  

The Spirit doesn’t just give us life as individuals.  It revives us so we can enjoy new life together, life in the Promised Land of the community of God’s people:  the church.

That’s what Pentecost is all about.  When God’s Spirit descends on the apostles in that upper room, it’s the birth of the church.  God’s Spirit gave life to that community and made it vibrant and joyous.

God’s Spirit is alive and well in this church, too.  It’s what you and I feel when we come here to worship God each week. It’s the joy and the love that resound here, not only in worship but in Sunday School, Coffee Hour, Bible Study groups and, dare I say, sometimes even in committee meetings!

It’s also what pulls us out the door to get our hands dirty in helping others. From Mechanicsburg to Maine, from Camp Curtin to South Africa, the Spirit shapes us, moves us and guides us to share God’s love with others, especially with those whom Jesus called the least.

Simply put, God’s Spirit is the life force of this family of faith, just as it was for the apostles at Pentecost and the exiles in Babylon. 

Like them, we can do nothing of our own accord to acquire the Spirit. It’s not like a genie in a bottle that we can call whenever we want.  It’s pure gift, a gift from God’ grace.

It comes to us first in baptism.  Then, over time, we experience it more and more as our faith grows.  Our job is to trust it and go with it, wherever it leads us.

As Martin Luther said, “Such confidence and knowledge of God's grace makes you happy, joyful and bold in your relationship to God and all creatures. The Holy Spirit makes this happen through faith. Because of it, you freely, willingly and joyfully do good to everyone, serve everyone, (and) suffer all kinds of things.  Love and praise the God who has shown you such grace.”

Maybe there was a time in your life when you were living in bleakness and oblivion, and God breathed new life into you and delivered you from the abyss.  If so, then love and praise are certainly the appropriate response.  Let them flow, like the apostles did at Pentecost.

But if you’re still walking like a zombie through the valley of the shadow of death, and you feel like God’s forgotten you, then hear this promise that God makes to us: “I will put my Spirit within you and you shall live.”   

Friends, trust that promise.  He did it for the exiles in Babylon. He did it for the apostles on Pentecost.  He did it for us at baptism.  And he will renew that gift in each of us, if we trust him. 

When he does, it will be a comeback for the ages.  You don’t have to be a Red Sox fan, or even a sports fan, to appreciate the joy that will bring.

May it be so.

Last Published: May 21, 2018 11:12 AM
Sermons

Click here to view Worship Videos.

For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

 

May 2022


May 15, 2022 "Easter Discipleship, Part 3: Love One Another (as I Have Loved You)" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 8, 2022 "Easter Discipleship, Part 2: Follow My Voice" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 1, 2022 "Easter Discipleship, Part 1: Feed My Sheep" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

April 2022


April 17, 2022 "New Life, or an Idle Tale?" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

April 10, 2022 "The Deeper Meaning" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

March 2022


March 13, 2022  "Images of Jesus- Part II: Friend of the Cross" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

February 2022


February 13, 2022  "Love, Faith, Hope - Part III: The Life of Hope" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

January 2022


January 30, 2022  "Love, Faith, Hope - Part I:  Acts of Love" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

January 2, 2022  "Jesus Draws a Crowd" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

December 2021


December 19, 2021 "Advent Anticipation" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

December 5, 2021 "Advent 2: Wilderness Preparation" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

November 2021


November 14, 2021 "How It All Ends, Part 2: Resurrection" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

November 7, 2021 "How It All Ends, Part 1: Return" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

October 2021


October 31, 2021 "SSPC Values Part 5: Steward God's Gifts" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

October 24, 2021 "SSPC Values Part 4: Nurture Relationships" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

October 17, 2021 "SSPC Values Part 3: Share Hospitality by the Rev. Don Wahlig

October 10, 2021  "SSPC Values Part 2: Show Compassion" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

October 3, 2021  "SSPC Values Part 1: Glorify God" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

September 2021


September 19, 2021  "Gentle Wisdom, or Worldly Ways?" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

September 12, 2021  "Prophetic Hope" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

September 5, 2021  "A Vision of Our Future" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

August 2021


August 15, 2021  "Wise Living" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

July 2021


July 4, 2021  "Humility Over Hubris" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

June 2021


June 27, 2021  "Faith Over Fear" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 2021


May 30, 2021  "The Spirit, Part 3: :Life and Peace" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 23, 2021  "The Spirit, Part 2: The Life of Hope" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 16, 2021  "The Spirit, Part I: Wisdom and Revelation" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 9, 2021  "Love Actually, Part 4: Love and Christ" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 2, 2021  "Love Actually, Part 3: Love and God" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

April 2021


April 25, 2021  "Love Actually, Part II: Love in Action" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

April 18, 2021  "Love Actually, Part I: Love and Family" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

Easter, April 4, 2021  "How Does It End?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

March 2021


March 28, 2021  "The King We Weren't Expecting" by Rev. Don Wahlig

March 14, 2021  "The Cure for Snake Bite" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

February 2021


February 28, 2021  "Are you Kidding, God?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

February 14, 2021  "Premature Joy" by Rev. Don Wahlig

February 7, 2021  "Need a Liftt?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

 

 

Click here for previous sermons

 

 

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